USTR - 2002 Special 301 Report Watch List
Office of the United States Trade Representative

 

2002 Special 301 Report Watch List
05/01/2002

WATCH LIST

ARMENIA

Armenia has several remaining steps to take to fulfill its intellectual property rights commitments under the 1992 U.S.-Armenia Trade Agreement. In addition, the Armenian intellectual property regime does not appear to be TRIPS-consistent in its current form, so certain changes may have to be made in preparation for Armenia's accession to the WTO. At present, Armenia does not provide any protection or rights to U.S. and other foreign sound recordings or clearly provide retroactive protection for works or sound recordings under its Copyright Law. In addition, there is weak enforcement of intellectual property rights in Armenia. New criminal penalties for intellectual property rights violations have been adopted; however, there have been no known convictions under the new law, and it is unclear whether the Government has the authority to commence criminal copyright cases.

AZERBAIJAN

Azerbaijan has several remaining steps to take before fulfilling its intellectual property rights commitments under the 1995 U.S.-Azerbaijan Trade Agreement. Specifically, Azerbaijan is not providing any protection or rights to U.S. and other foreign sound recordings, and Azerbaijan does not clearly provide retroactive protection for works or sound recordings under its copyright law. In addition, there is weak enforcement of intellectual property rights in Azerbaijan. New criminal penalties for intellectual property rights violations have been adopted. However, the provisions under the Azerbaijani Criminal Code are minimal and are limited to copyright and patent violations, completely excluding neighboring rights violations. In addition, it seems the Customs Code may not provide the proper authority to seize material at the border as required by the TRIPS Agreement.

BAHAMAS

The United States is disappointed that the Bahamas has not yet implemented its commitment to the United States to enact legislation to correct deficiencies in its copyright law. The key concern remains the provisions in the law permitting the compulsory licensing to Bahamian cable operators of retransmission of premium cable television programming. Inadequate remuneration for the compulsory licensing of free-over-the-air broadcasts is a related concern, particularly with respect to uses by hotels and other commercial enterprises. The U.S. Government urges the Bahamas to enact swiftly the necessary amendments to its copyright law. The United States will conduct an out-of-cycle review to review actions in this regard. At the same time, the U.S. Government continues to encourage U.S. copyright owners and operators of premium cable services to enter into negotiations with licensed Bahamian cable companies to provide voluntary licensing on commercial terms for the cable transmission of copyrighted works in the Bahamas.

BELARUS

Belarus has several remaining steps to take to fulfill its intellectual property rights commitments under the 1993 U.S.-Belarus Trade Agreement. Enforcement of intellectual property rights in Belarus is also very weak and piracy levels are extremely high. In fact, while Belarus has amended its Criminal Code to adopt deterrent penalties for intellectual property rights violations, the Criminal Code still does not contain the proper authority for officials to initiate criminal copyright cases. Moreover, Belarus is not providing any protection or rights to U.S. and other foreign sound recordings, nor does it clearly provide retroactive protection for works or sound recordings under its Copyright Law. Belarus is not yet a party to the Geneva Phonograms Convention. Belarus has also become a transshipment point for pirate materials throughout the region. The United States is very concerned about recent reports that optical disk production capacity has migrated from Ukraine into Belarus due to lax border enforcement. We urge Belarus to implement needed legislative reforms, and enact a strong optical disk control regime before the piracy situation increases further.

BOLIVIA

Despite some early signs of progress, Bolivia made little headway in strengthening its intellectual property rights regime last year. Bolivian legislation designed to bring its IPR regime up to international standards continues to be stalled in the legislature. Enforcement activities have decreased, and allegations of corruption among judges, prosecutors and police have increased. The United States is heartened by the appointment of a new director to head the intellectual property rights service (SENAPI), and encourages Bolivia to support the director's efforts to improve the IPR situation in Bolivia. The United States looks to Bolivia to increase enforcement efforts and enact its IPR reform legislation quickly to comply with international standards.

CANADA

Canada made some progress in improving its IPR regime over the past year, including amending its patent law to provide at least a 20-year term of protection for patents filed before October 1, 1989. However, the problems that originally caused Canada to be placed on the Watch List remain largely unresolved. For example, Canada does not provide adequate data protection in the pharmaceutical area, and systematic inadequacies in Canadian administrative and judicial procedures allow early and often infringing entry of generic versions of patented medicines into the marketplace. Moreover, progress has stalled on resolving the outstanding issue of national treatment of U.S. artists in the distribution of proceeds from Canada's private copying levy and its "neighboring rights" regime. The United States is also concerned about Canada's lax, and potentially deteriorating, border measures that appear to be non-compliant with TRIPS requirements. Finally, the U.S. Government remains concerned about the potential use of compulsory licenses for Internet retransmission of broadcast signals.

CHILE

Chile's intellectual property rights laws do not appear to be fully consistent with their international obligations, and shortcomings remain in copyright and trademark enforcement. Chile has made efforts to arrest those who infringe copyrights, but attempts to enforce copyrights in Chile have met with considerable delays in the courts and weak sentences for offenders. In 2000, for instance, the legislature passed a new criminal procedure law designed to improve the old system. However, separate legislation intended to bring Chile's legal framework into compliance with TRIPS is still pending. Indeed, the bill as it stands now does not appear to provide for the effective use of injunctions in copyright and trademark infringement cases.

Furthermore, the United States is quite concerned about the November 2001 announcement by the Ministry of Health that it would issue marketing approval for pharmaceuticals without regard to whether a patented version already exists. Marketing approvals for many patented drugs have already been issued, seriously undermining the rights of patent holders. Patent approval also remains slow, with time for approval averaging over four years. The United States urges Chile to strengthen its enforcement efforts, and enact legislation to fully comply with TRIPS obligations including by providing adequate protection of confidential data and an effective linkage between the health and patent authorities.

COSTA RICA

Costa Rica has taken important steps since late 2001 to develop a concerted government strategy for improving the enforcement of intellectual property rights. In addition to other positive measures, Costa Rica has appointed specialized prosecutors, intensified training activities for officials involved in enforcement, and implemented a decree focused on legitimizing software used by government agencies. The United States is recognizing this progress by moving Costa Rica from the Priority Watch List to the Watch List. Nonetheless, it is essential that the recent initiatives be fully and expeditiously implemented and that progress continue. Key indications of continuing improvement will be: passage of legislative proposals to correct remaining deficiencies in the criminal procedures laws and the intellectual property laws, including deficiencies in the data exclusivity provisions; more prosecutions of IPR offenders, perhaps facilitated by the establishment of a dedicated IPR unit within the Prosecutor's Office; and vigorous enforcement efforts to reduce continuing high piracy levels, such as closure of retail stores that rent or sell pirated products. In addition, the United States urges Costa Rica to ensure that its new government software legalization decree is implemented on schedule and in a technologically-neutral manner. The United States will conduct an out-of-cycle review of these issues to ensure that recent progress is sustained.

GREECE

Although Greece resolved the WTO TV broadcasting case with the United States last year, optical disk piracy and unauthorized book photocopying remain persistent problems. The United States is encouraged by an increase in police and border enforcement efforts, particularly with respect to business software. However, among European Union member states, Greece continues to have some of the highest piracy rates of music CDs, entertainment software, and business software. The lack of deterrent penalties imposed on pirates and inefficient judicial action hamper Greece's ability to reduce its piracy rates. The use of unauthorized computer software in government offices also remains a problem. Patent protection for pharmaceuticals remains inadequate as data exclusivity is linked directly to the length of patents, rather than being protected in its own right. The United States urges Greece to pursue sustained and deterrent enforcement actions, to ensure that government entities use only authorized software, and to improve its protection of pharmaceuticals as required by international obligations.

GUATEMALA

The United States welcomes the appointment in June 2001 of a special prosecutor for intellectual property rights matters, as part of the government's ongoing efforts to improve enforcement and to implement intellectual property rights legislation enacted in mid-2000. Nonetheless, continuing high piracy levels, particularly with respect to business software applications, remain an ongoing concern, and one that has not been adequately addressed through current enforcement and prosecution activity.

ITALY

Despite Italy's enactment of its Anti-Piracy Bill in September 2000 and increased enforcement actions in 2001, Italy continues to have one of the highest overall piracy and counterfeiting rates in Western Europe. In particular, the rate of piracy of business software by corporate end-users remains among the highest levels in Europe, with losses approaching $285 million in 2001. Notwithstanding repeated assurances, Italy still has not clarified the Anti-Piracy Bill's implementing regulations for business software, that exempt copyright owners from a requirement to apply government-approved stickers, for which a fee would be charged, on their genuine copyrighted works. Without this exemption, Italy could be in violation of its international obligations, which do not permit conditioning protection on compliance with a stickering formality. The United States urges Italy to resolve this issue without further delay.

JAMAICA

The U.S. Government is heartened by the creation of Jamaica's Intellectual Property Office, and by continued progress in enforcing existing intellectual property rights laws, including with respect to the misuse of well-known marks. We understand that Jamaican officials have categorically denied reports that Jamaica is considering the compulsory licensing of encrypted broadcasts. The United States is encouraged that Jamaica is continuing to seek fair, commercial
solutions to this issue. Lack of parliamentary action to bring Jamaica's patent, industrial design, and plant variety laws into conformity with international standards remains the primary motivation for the country's inclusion on the Watch List. The United States urges Jamaica to complete the process of enacting the necessary legislation.

KAZAKHSTAN

Kazakhstan has several remaining steps to take to fulfill its intellectual property rights commitments under the 1992 U.S.-Kazakhstan Trade Agreement. In particular, Kazakhstan does not clearly provide full retroactive protection for works or sound recordings under its Copyright Law. In addition, there is weak enforcement of intellectual property rights in Kazakhstan, and as a result, piracy and counterfeiting rates are growing problems. New criminal penalties for intellectual property rights violations, however, have been adopted, but the United States is concerned about the effectiveness of the new Criminal Code provisions in deterring piracy and counterfeiting, due to the high burden of proof threshold. The dearth of intellectual property rights cases commenced under the new laws may reflect the impact of this procedural requirement.

KOREA

Korea has taken significant steps to strengthen its IPR enforcement and legislation. On enforcement, it has created a new special enforcement unit which it intends to provide with "police" authority, to step up its protection against software piracy. In addition, to address concerns the U.S. Government has raised about Korea's failure to implement a transparent, non-discriminatory, and sustained enforcement regime, Korea has agreed to provide the United States with detailed data on its enforcement efforts. Korea has made progress on strengthening its intellectual property legislation, addressing several U.S. concerns related to its Copyright Act and the Computer Program Protection Act. It also announced that it is preparing legislation to provide exclusive transmission rights for sound recordings and performances, which will resolve a longstanding concern. Despite these important developments, U.S. concerns remain with respect to the protection of temporary copies, technical protection measures, ISP liability, and ex parte relief, the lack of full retroactive protection for pre-existing copyrighted works, and continued counterfeiting of consumer products. Regarding issues related to the protection of pharmaceutical patents, Korea resolved questions related to its commitment to provide full protection against unfair commercial use of test data submitted for marketing approval, but the lack of coordination between Korean health and IPR authorities on drug product approvals for marketing remains problematic.

KUWAIT

The United States recognizes the recent efforts made by Kuwait to increase intellectual property protection. However, due to continuing problems with copyright piracy, Kuwait will remain on the Special 301 Watch List. Recognizing the importance of protecting intellectual property in a modern, knowledge-driven economy and mindful of the incentive that adequate protection provides for investors, Kuwait and the United States have developed a work plan outlining the initial steps that Kuwait will take to increase its efforts to reduce the high level of copyright piracy still evident in Kuwait. The work plan includes short and medium-term action to, inter alia, increase enforcement of current intellectual property laws, apply deterrent penalties, revise copyright legislation, and increase cooperation between the government and private industry. Successful implementation of the work plan will serve as a basis for future cooperation between the United States and Kuwait. The United States and Kuwait are in the process of documenting Kuwait's intention to carry out this work plan. If we are unable to complete this process satisfactorily by May 31, 2002, Kuwait will be raised to the Priority Watch List.

LATVIA

Although not a producer of pirated optical media products, large volumes of pirated products are transshipped through Latvia from Russia and Ukraine. The United States urges Latvia to pass legislation to ensure that customs and police authorities have the tools needed to combat this piracy, including providing adequate civil ex parte search procedures. In addition, the U.S. Government urges the police, customs officials, prosecutors, and judicial authorities to place greater emphasis on combating copyright piracy.

LITHUANIA

Weak enforcement undermines Lithuania's attempts to protect the rights of copyright holders. The country remains flooded with pirated copyrighted materials, including large volumes of optical media products. In addition, Lithuania is a major transshipment country for pirate producers to the East who transport their goods to consumers in the West. Furthermore, Lithuania does not provide protection for confidential test data submitted by pharmaceutical firms for marketing approval.

MALAYSIA

Optical media piracy remains a serious problem in Malaysia. Malaysia's production capacity of optical media exceeds local demand plus legitimate exports, and pirated products believed to have originated in Malaysia have been identified throughout the Asia-Pacific region, North America, South America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Although the first year of implementation of the Optical Disk Act was hampered by a slow compliance schedule, the United States continues to appreciate the determined efforts made by agencies within Malaysia to eliminate optical media piracy. The Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (MDTCA) has inspected licensed factories and conducted raids against pirate plants. Over the past two years, the MDTCA has confiscated a significant amount of pirate product from unlicensed factories and has seized and removed equipment and replication lines. These actions are evidence that Malaysia is serious about stamping out piracy. Although progress has been steady, there is concern that Malaysia has not established a climate of deterrence. Police raids have only infrequently been followed by criminal prosecutions. Without criminal prosecutions and the imposition of serious criminal sentences, there is no true deterrence to piracy in Malaysia The United States urges Malaysia to continue the progress made against illegal optical disk plants and to focus its attention on the problem of prosecutorial inaction and judicial delays in order to support the enforcement efforts already underway.

NEW ZEALAND

In 1999, New Zealand pledged to introduce legislation regarding imports of newly-released copyrighted products (e.g., music, films, software and books) intended for sale outside New Zealand. By the end of 2001, however, the government had not introduced this legislation. Therefore, the U.S. Government remains concerned about the erosion of the value of copyright protection and the threat of increased piracy of copyrighted goods in New Zealand. However, the United States is encouraged that New Zealand's parliament is currently considering legislation to strengthen New Zealand's enforcement regime with respect to copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting, which may move towards addressing our concerns. The United States urges New Zealand to adopt legislation to correct the erosion of copyrights and improve enforcement against piracy and counterfeiting as soon as possible.

PAKISTAN

Over the past two years, Pakistan has attempted to address most of its deficiencies in its intellectual property rights regime. The U.S. Government recognizes and appreciates the efforts made by Pakistan to improve the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. However, optical media piracy remains a growth industry in Pakistan. Pakistan has emerged as one of the world's largest exporters of pirate CDs and optical media. Industry estimates eight illegal optical media production plants are operating, with actual production of approximately 55 million units (or ten times Pakistan's legitimate domestic demand). Pirate goods account for 90% of the domestic marketplace. Similarly, book piracy remains a significant issue, accounting for $44 million in losses for U.S. publishers. At present, lengthy registration processes for innovative drugs offer ample time for generic copies to reach the domestic market despite apparent patent infringements. The United States urges Pakistan to address its serious piracy problems, including, in particular, the rampant optical media piracy situation.

PERU

Peru has continued to improve intellectual property rights protection, although copyright piracy levels have remained fairly constant and the criminal enforcement system remains generally weak. Peru has not yet issued a decree mandating the use of licensed software by government agencies. On a positive note, during the past year Peru ratified both WIPO Treaties related to the digital environment. Several patent-related concerns remain outstanding, the most significant of which relates to an Andean Tribunal decision ordering Peru to stop issuing "second use" patents.

POLAND

Poland has a substantial copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting problem, the most glaring symbol of which is the Warsaw Stadium and the unauthorized retail activity that is carried on in those premises. Although Poland is not a major producer of pirated optical media products, pirates import unauthorized copies of optical media products, principally from Ukraine, for sale at the Stadium. Poland's enforcement efforts at the Stadium so far have been insufficient to halt the sale of pirated and counterfeit goods. The U.S. Government intends to conduct an out-of-cycle review (OCR) later this year in order to focus on this aspect of Poland's intellectual property rights protection regime. In this OCR, the United States will specifically look to Poland to commence unannounced raids against retailers at the Warsaw Stadium. These raids, followed by prosecutions, should be significant enough in number to stem the sale and distribution of pirated and counterfeit goods at the Stadium. The U.S. Government will also look to Poland to sustain an adequate and effective enforcement effort against IPR violators in order to establish a deterrent effect in Poland, including at the Stadium.

In addition, despite the Polish Government restoring the provision for three-year confidentiality for data submitted to the health authorities by pharmaceutical firms, shortcomings in the law remain. Specifically, linkage to the patent term is introduced in the law and the period of data protection runs from the date of first marketing authorization granted anywhere in the world, rather than within Poland. Poland agreed to make supplementary protection certificates available for pharmaceuticals registered since January 1, 2000, as required by EU law. However, pharmaceutical firms remain vulnerable on certain older products because they are protected only by process patents.

QATAR

Qatar was removed from the Special 301 Watch List last year in recognition of its enforcement actions against copyright infringement, as well as its commitment to amend copyright and trademark laws to comply with its obligations under the TRIPS Agreement. Qatar has drafted amendments to these laws, but has not yet signed and implemented the necessary legislation. Therefore, Qatar is being placed on the Watch List this year. In addition, although Qatar has pursued some enforcement actions against copyright infringement, high levels of end-user piracy of unauthorized computer software continues.

ROMANIA

Piracy of sound recordings, audiovisual products (videos, broadcast television, and cable television), and computer software persists at high rates despite reforms to the legal regime. Inconsistent enforcement and understanding of IPR legislation, the low level of priority given piracy by regional and local authorities, and the lack of resources dedicated to combating piracy combine to make intellectual property rights protection a continuing challenge in Romania.

SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi Arabia has made notable progress in improving the enforcement of intellectual property rights over the past year. During 2001, the Ministry of Information stepped up investigations, raids and seizures, in conjunction with U.S. companies and U.S. industry groups, and the Ministry of Commerce also established a Fraud Control Department, which has conducted thousands of inspections and seizures. However, the United States remains concerned about continued high losses experienced by U.S. copyright and trademark-based industries and the absence of long-awaited revised intellectual property rights legislation. U.S. industry has expressed frustration with the lack of transparency in the enforcement system, procedural hurdles to judicial enforcement, and the absence of deterrent penalties. Saudi Arabia is currently working to revise its IPR laws to bring them into conformity with the TRIPS Agreement as part of its efforts to join the WTO. The United States looks to Saudi Arabia to strengthen its intellectual property rights enforcement efforts. In particular, the U.S. urges Saudi Arabia to act quickly to revise IPR legislation to provide for, inter alia, penalties sufficiently deterrent to reduce the level of piracy and counterfeiting (including higher fines and longer prison sentences) and greater access for litigants to court proceedings at all stages of the judicial process.

SLOVAK REPUBLIC

The Slovak Republic fails to provide adequate and effective protection for confidential pharmaceutical test data submitted to obtain marketing approval. The six-year period of protection for confidential test data submitted for marketing approval in the Slovak Republic is reduced to the extent the data was submitted earlier in an EU member state. This is a shortcoming which greatly diminishes the protection of confidential test data.

TAJIKISTAN

Tajikistan has yet to fulfill all of its intellectual property rights commitments under the 1993 U.S.-Tajikistan Trade Agreement. Specifically, Tajikistan is not yet a party to the Geneva Phonograms Convention. In addition, Tajikistan is not providing any protection or rights to U.S. and other foreign sound recordings, nor does it clearly provide retroactive protection for works or sound recordings under its Copyright Law. Criminal penalties for intellectual property rights violations have not yet been adopted as required by the bilateral trade agreement. In general, there is weak enforcement of intellectual property rights in Tajikistan.

THAILAND

Overall, Thailand has made incremental progress on IPR issues. Pirate optical media production, distribution and export is a significant and growing problem facing U.S. copyright industries. Industry estimates a 300 percent increase in pirate optical disk plants operating in Thailand from 1999. Industry asserts that Thailand has become a primary destination for criminal organizations seeking new bases of operation as controls on illicit wares tighten around the region. Further complicating the protection of IPR in Thailand is the fact that end-user piracy of business software is endemic, perhaps as high as 76 percent, according to industry estimates. Thailand's Central Intellectual Property Court remains a bright spot in the country's efforts to safeguard IPR. The Court's overall effectiveness, however, is hampered by judicial delays, limited resources, and a lack of deterrent sentencing. Key high level Thai Government officials have recently demonstrated a troubling lack of support for the officers of the court and especially the relevant law enforcement agencies.

While the United States recognizes some progress has been made in the past year, the significant and growing problems of optical media production and end-user piracy of business software remain largely unaddressed. For these reasons, the United States will re-evaluate Thailand's IPR situation during an out-of-cycle Review to be conducted in the Fall. The OCR will focus on Thailand's progress in passing and implementing a satisfactory optical media bill; in implementing the Trade Secrets Act in a TRIPS-compliant manner; and most importantly, in launching a sustained enforcement drive against trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy, including optical media and illegal end use of business software. The U.S. Government recognizes the important role played by law enforcement officials in this process, and encourages Thailand to provide enforcement authorities the resources and political backing necessary to ensure the successful implementation of a long-term aggressive enforcement policy.

TURKEY

Lack of effective IPR protection in Turkey is a serious concern for the United States. The pharmaceutical licensing regulations of the Ministry of Health do not appear to meet Turkey's TRIPS obligations under Article 39.3. The broadcasting regulations issued last year by the Ministry of Culture undermine the intent of the 2001 copyright law. Piracy levels remain extremely high and government efforts to control piracy, specifically the "banderole" system, have failed. The U.S. recognizes, however, that Turkey's recent economic difficulties have consumed most of the government's attention. The United States encourages Turkey to now turn its attention to IPR issues, in the context of efforts to attract foreign investment. In particular, the U.S. Government encourages the Ministry of Health to amend its pharmaceutical licensing regulations to make them fully consistent with TRIPS Article 39.3 and encourages the Ministry of Culture to revise its broadcast regulations to comply with the intent of the 2001 copyright law. The United States also encourages Turkey to increase the number of raids on sources of piracy, increase control of pirated material at the border, eliminate–or at a minimum reform–the banderole system, address the issuance of registrations to unauthorized distributors of pirate products, increase prosecution of IPR violations, and impose deterrent sentences.

TURKMENISTAN

Turkmenistan has several remaining steps to take to fulfill its intellectual property rights commitments under the 1993 U.S.-Turkmenistan Trade Agreement. Specifically, Turkmenistan is not yet a party to the Berne Convention or the Geneva Phonograms Convention. Turkmenistan is not providing any protection or rights to U.S. and other foreign sound recordings, nor does it clearly provide retroactive protection for works or sound recordings under its Copyright Law. In addition, criminal penalties for intellectual property rights violations have not yet been adopted as required by the U.S.-Turkmenistan Trade Agreement. Furthermore, the Customs Code does not provide the proper authority to seize material at the border, as is necessary to conduct effective border enforcement.

UZBEKISTAN

Uzbekistan has many remaining steps to take to fulfill its intellectual property rights commitments under the 1994 U.S.-Uzbekistan Trade Agreement. Specifically, Uzbekistan is not yet a party to the Berne Convention or the Geneva Phonograms Convention. Uzbekistan is not providing any protection or rights to U.S. and other foreign sound recordings, and it does not clearly provide retroactive protection for works or sound recordings under its Copyright Law. As a result, there is insufficient enforcement of intellectual property rights in Uzbekistan.

VENEZUELA

The U.S. is pleased that, during the past year, Venezuela sought to defend its issuance of "second use" patents before the Andean Tribunal, and the National Intellectual Property Office (SAPI) improved its enforcement operations. The National Anti-Piracy Brigade (COMANPI) has continued to train and to provide expertise and enforcement with respect to a variety of IPR violations. However, limited resources and a lack of IPR enforcement by Venezuela customs have hampered the government's efforts to lower copyright piracy levels. Venezuelan policies on pharmaceutical data protection need to be clarified as well so as to make clear that their practices are consistent with international standards.

VIETNAM

Enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) in Vietnam remains weak, and violations of IPR are rampant. While Vietnam did conduct considerable administrative and law enforcement actions against IPR violations over the past year, IPR enforcement remains the exception rather than the norm. Market access barriers, especially with regard to "cultural products," continue to impede the availability of legitimate product, further complicating efforts to combat piracy. In most cities, according to industry estimates, up to 100 percent of the music CDs, VCDs, and DVDs on sale are pirated. Trademark violations are also prevalent, with all types of clothing and other items carrying unlicensed versions of famous trademarks available at stands throughout major cities. In spite of this bleak portrait, Vietnam has taken two steps over the last year to strengthen its IPR regime. First, the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement, which entered into force on December 10, 2001, has major provisions on IPR that commit Vietnam to make its IPR regime, including enforcement, TRIPS-consistent within two years. Second, Vietnam continued over the past year to make strong progress in strengthening its IPR legal and enforcement structures, including implementing new regulations: (1) extending indefinite protection to well-known or famous marks; (2) protecting new plant varieties for the first time; and (3) providing procedures by which IPR owners can petition Vietnam customs to postpone temporarily the entry or exit of shipments of suspected pirated goods. The United States encourages Vietnam to effectively implement and enforce its new laws and regulations to reduce the pervasive piracy and counterfeiting that continue to exist.

 
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